Citywide Restrictions on Plastic Straws Go Into Effect in L.A. on Earth Day

Starting today, large restaurants in the city of Los Angeles will be prohibited from offering or providing disposable plastic straws—unless diners request them.

That’s under a new ordinance unanimously approved by the City Council in March. The rules apply to customers dining in or taking their orders to-go.

The law allows some leeway for drive-throughs and deliveries: Restaurants are then allowed to ask customers whether or not they want plastic straws.

The restrictions go into effect for bigger businesses on Earth Day, while other restaurants, food retailers and supermarkets will have to follow suit on Oct. 1.

Americans use up to 500 million plastic straws every day, according to the city ordinance. These often end up in L.A. waterways and the ocean, where many marine animals fatally ingest small plastic materials.

“At current rates of plastic straw distribution, the United Nations estimates that by weight there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050,” the ordinance reads.

Those who violate the rules will receive a written notice for their first and second infractions. Subsequent violations will cost businesses $25 for each day they don’t follow the rules, but won’t exceed $300 per calendar year.

Health facilities in the city are exempted from the ordinance.

A similar law went into effect in Seattle in 2018. Disney, McDonald’s, Starbucks and other corporations have also announced eliminating single-use plastic straws at their businesses.

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